The M+G+R Foundation
The Coming Apocalypse
A Guest Document
By Geov Parrish
Does anybody in this country get it?
Does anybody understand what the United
States is on the verge of doing?
Experienced, respected food aid
organizations warn that even before the bombing of Afghanistan began on
October 7, some 7,500,000 Afghans were -- through a gut-wrenching
combination of poverty, drought, war, dislocation, and repression -- at
risk of starving to death this winter. When the bombing began, almost
all delivery of food from the outside world stopped. Now, roads and
bridges are destroyed, millions more people are dislocated, and the
snow is steadily approaching from higher elevations and from the north.
For weeks, aid organizations, along
with voices from throughout the region, have been begging the United
States to call off its bombing campaign, at least for long enough so
that aid agencies can conduct the massive transfer of food into and
throughout Afghanistan that is necessary to prevent death on a scale
the world has not seen in a long, long time. On our newscasts, it's
politely referred to as a "humanitarian crisis." That's a euphemism
that makes "collateral damage" seem humane.
Seven and a half million people at risk
of dying in a matter of months. That's three times the number of people
Pol Pot took years to kill. Thirty-five times the number that died in
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined. If 5,000 died on September 11 (a
number that reports are now suggesting is vastly inflated), we're
talking the equivalent number of deaths to ten World Trade Centers,
every day, for 150 days. Slow, painful deaths. Entirely avoidable
deaths. Deaths whose sole cause is not the United States, but most of
which can still be prevented -- except that the United States is
refusing to allow them to be prevented.
It repulses me to say this, but I
suspect a lot of Americans don't care. They'd rather see the United
States "get" Osama bin Laden (though there's no actual evidence that
we're any closer to that today than we were two months ago, and
probably the task is harder as he becomes more popular and protected).
A lot of people in this country do not care that a staggering number of
innocent people are on the verge of being condemned to death, or that
most of the world will blame the United States. Correctly.
We should care. If the object of this
war was to thwart terrorism -- to bring existing terrorists to justice,
and to isolate them politically and culturally so that others won't
throw in their lot -- in less than a month, the United States has
perpetrated one of the most abject failures in military history. It
still does not know where any of Al-Qaeda's leadership even is. It is
on the verge of succeeding in its goal of creating a unified
Afghanistan government -- unfortunately, Afghans are uniting behind the
Taliban, as warlord after warlord sets aside long-standing differences
to stand shoulder to shoulder to fight the American invaders. Tens of
thousands more young Muslim men are lining up to cross the borders into
Afghanistan to join them. The ones that survive the experience will
carry a lifetime of hate: living, breathing proof that within a month,
America bombed a country but lost its war in spectacular fashion.
That's today. What will happen if
millions of Afghans die this winter? How much future terrorism will the
dunderheads of the Bush Administration have inspired then? If several
million Islamic sisters and brothers starve to death, innocent
civilians trapped between winter and the rage of America, how many of
Islam's 1.2 billion adherents -- or the five billion other people on
earth -- are going to take George Bush's proclamations about
eradicating "terrorists" and "evildoers" to heart, and label him, and
us, as the prime examples?
In less than two months, the United
States government has gone from the moral high ground of being
victimized by one of the most heinous crimes in world history, to being
within a week or two of quite visibly committing a crime so much larger
as to obliterate the world's memory of September 11. Remarkably, almost
nobody in the United States seems to have either noticed, understood,
or cared. While even progressives wring their hands over the ambiguity
of a war fought under the auspices of America's legitimate right to
defend itself, a situation is unfolding in which there is absolutely no
moral ambiguity at all, and for which many people will want to hold
each of us as accountable as the world held post-war Germans. Where
were you? What did you say? How could you allow this to happen? Or, a
more likely reaction in the Islamic world: Why should millions of you
not die as well? America will have set out to isolate one man, and
instead killed millions and isolated itself. And much of the world will
not rest until we are brought to our knees.
Seven and a half million people. The
snowline is creeping down the mountainsides. The food is almost gone.
The infrastructure is in shambles. There will be no "independent
verification" of the body count. There wasn't in the Holocaust or
Rwanda or Cambodia, either. The judgment of the world did not need one.
The clock is ticking. Where were you?
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